Leaning back in a quiet corner of one of his cafés, salve Buzz Fendall expounds upon the key to his success. “For us, find it’s just a passion in what we love doing. If you read books, you open up a library. If you love cars, you open up a car dealership. For me, it’s about espresso and people.” As he entertains, an intricately-poured macchiato appears in front of me.
He invites this Starbucks card-holder to take a sip– it really is excellent. So that’s it, a love for espresso and people? “Well, I’ve been hospitalised in the past for working myself too hard!”
Currently the number of recent graduates emigrating from Ireland is expected to sit at around 58,000 by 2016; but in an era when so many of Ireland’s younger workforce are now powering the Southern Hemisphere, Buzz is one of the rare few to have flown the other way across the Indian Ocean. “I wasn’t meant to be here for more than a few months,” Fendall confesses. “I arrived here in 2004 on a three-month holiday visa, and just fell in love with this gorgeous rock in the middle of the ocean!”
The New Zealander, living here now for seven years, seems grateful for a short break following the lunchtime rush, but does not use it as an excuse to relax – rather, his spot against the wall allows him to remain vigilant of his court. It is evident that Ireland has been very good to Fendall thus far – this year, following the success of his Aungier Street and Harcourt Road cafes, he hopes to add a third premises to his Bald Barista cafe chain.
However, success has not come without sacrifice. “I don’t have a social life!” Fendall begins cheerily. “Well, this is my social life. But the funny thing is, people actually pay me to come and socialise with them!”
Buzz’s apparent distaste for one of his adopted home country’s oldest institutions seems to have worked to his advantage. “People work all week, only to go out and destroy themselves on the weekends. The way I look at it, you create your own social network around you, as we’ve done here. This place was genuinely a shithole when I first came in here. It didn’t matter how good the coffee was! It took a good year to make it a good place for customers.”
This is impressive for anyone to achieve in such a short time, more so when the country is in the worst financial state since its foundation. What persuaded Fendall to stay here when the economy took a nosedive? “There’s an ancient wisdom here unbelievable as that sounds which is hundreds of generations old. If you drive around parts of Ireland where there’s [sic] no landmarks, no nothing, you can feel something incredible. In comparison, New Zealand is like a teenager trying to grow up!” The attraction of an ancient land, as well as the welcome he has received, imbued a sense of loyalty and gratitude in Fendall for this rock in the North Atlantic. “So many people come here and send the money they make back overseas. I don’t see why people can’t just keep the money here, in this country that has given so much to so many!”
Now that he has learned from experience, what advice could Buzz give to other recent graduates who want to weather the financial storm at home? “Don’t do anything for the money – that’s how most people tend to fail. But if it’s about the passion, money will come. This is something we tell so many people – when you need a break from working or studying, what is it that you really want to do? Once you find that passion, you’ve found your business.”
“What I do here, it’s not a ‘job’- it’s a passion. And if you do something with a passion, God, it works!”